A Process for Finding Purpose

Jay Subramaniam Class of 2015

Jay Subramaniam Class of 2015

We’ve all seen the writing on the wall, “Why are you here and not somewhere else?”

As the school year gets closer to its end, whether you’re getting your new internship clothes or graduation robes ready, have you asked yourself recently, “What’s my purpose?”

No matter if you believe that purpose comes from within, outside experiences, or above, I believe having purpose drives us to draw from our internal wellsprings in order to be the best we can be. I am writing this piece to share how I explore my own purpose: through finding silence and becoming silent.

Solitude, I often forget, is only steps away, especially on campus. It’s a hop across Woodlawn to Rockefeller Chapel (the doors are open during the day and anyone can go in). It’s a morning in the University of Chicago Botanic Garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. It’s Harper’s third floor quiet area. It’s under an elm tree on the Plaisance before the Lab schools let out. Perhaps it’s an upper seat on the 5:07 train? Though that infamous room C47 from Follies may be really hard to find, any other quiet place, I have to remind myself, is not.

"Why are you here and not somewhere else" by Quinn Dombrowski under CC BY-SA 2.0

"Why are you here and not somewhere else" by Quinn Dombrowski under CC BY-SA 2.0

When alone, I like to write because when we write, “we can taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect” (Anais Nin). When I sit down and think, it doesn’t matter whether I put my hands together in prayer or facing upwards in meditation. I just try to let several thoughts subside – thoughts about improving my station in life; the ups and downs of dating; the voices of YOLO and FOMO that persist in our MBA experience; or gender and cultural roles salient to my Indian-American identity. These and more contribute to doubtful mind chatter. And letting these thoughts completely go is the hardest part. But in doing so, I can better defragment my mind and listen to the better angels within.

When I’ve silenced myself, I ask, what do I really want to do with my one wild and precious life? I know from Scripture, it says to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Being able to silence myself provides that renewal.

We deal with so many personal and professional issues while in business school, don’t we? How do I get that offer? Which offer do I take? Who am I becoming after these two years? How do I develop my brand of leadership?  LEAD mentions that the best leaders are self-aware. Feedback develops that self-awareness, necessary for growth and transformation. While feedback from others is harder to extract, feedback from us is readily available if we stop, reflect, and smell those roses.

Jay Subramaniam is a full-time MBA student at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and serves as co-chair for Christians in Business